Art. Let’s talk about it for a bit.
One of the best things about the world and technology and the grand internets is that art is exploding, everywhere. If you have an idea and a smartphone, your art can meet the glory of YouTube in about ten seconds.
Suddenly, brilliant artists in the middle of nowhere who have no label backing them can pop out a killer Gotye cover. Suddenly, strange recipes for coffee and bacon sandwiches find their way to fellow foodies whose lives just wouldn’t be the same without caffeinated breakfast foods for dinnertime awesomeness. (I heart Joy the Baker. Follow her now.) Suddenly, Banksy and Leonid Afremov share equal space in my art inspiration days.
(there’s always a but in there somewhere, isn’t there?)
The internet also lets you hide pretty well. I know. I do it all the time. Direct, real-life criticism can get brushed aside as being the rantings of a hater. There’s not always community built around art anymore. It becomes about page views and self-indulgence. (I’m totally guilty here, don’t get me wrong.) You can ignore the critics because they’re words on a screen rather than honest thoughts from a friend sitting across the table from you.
And that’s the quickest way to artistic apathy. And then death.
It’s one thing to blog a story. It’s a whole different game to type it up and hand it to friends and mentors for face-to-face notes. It’s one thing to paint and then hide it away. I just do this for me. It’s another (infinitely more terrifying) thing to show your paintings at a local art night. It means you have to watch the faces of your audience as they hate it. Or maybe love it. But you’re there for their unfiltered reactions either way.
And, you guys! It’s scary! I know that. I know all those questions rattling around in your head.
What if you don’t like my heart? Or my voice? Or my color choices? Or my words?
What if you don’t like me?
- First thing’s first – separate you from your art.
Not entirely, because without your own experiences, how can you create anything? Person you makes artist you a possibility. Own it. Love it. Fight for it. But you have value and purpose in this crazy world because you are a person, not because you are an artist. So don’t take it all personally when someone says your art could be better. It probably could be. Don’t freak out. Make it better!
- And…. second thing – you have to take the risk!!!
Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Art by its very nature is meant to be shared (it’s like a good cup of coffee that way!) Critiqued. Loved. Hated. When we share our art, we learn to be better artists. (There’s a parallel here to being better humans too, but I’ll leave that for another blog.) Get embarrassed every so often. As you grow artistically, it’s going to happen less and less.
You invite others in to your art. Into your story. Be open to it. Share. Early and often. It’s why I blog. It’s why I tweet links to my posts – I want people I know and love to comment and critique and help me shape my words into their best possible forms. It makes me a better writer.
- Final thing — listen.
Let’s just be real. Not every person is good at every kind of art. And that sucks! I wish everyone was perfect at every type of art. I mean, how cool would that be? But there’s a reason I am not a storyboard artist. There is a reason I don’t knit. There is a reason I don’t play the drums. (I draw stick figures, I can’t knit to save my life, despite Jess and Lauren’s best attempts, and I hate the thought of people listening to me for their timing and beat. *Shivers* Anyway…)
Don’t be afraid to focus on what you’re actually good at. This a theme that has come up a couple times in my blogs – but you don’t have to be everything to everyone. If you can’t sing a note, don’t pursue a career as the next Josh Groban or Kenny Chesney or Tori Amos. You’re just going to end up years down the road, disappointed and still no closer to what you’re actually supposed to do. Don’t put that stuff on YouTube. For reals. That’s the kind of stuff that comes back to haunt you later. And who needs that?
Because maybe it’s going to turn out that you are AMAZING at baking, and the world needs your brand and flavor of wedding cakes. Or maybe you can grow the most amazing vegetables (in which case you are my new best friend and I want you to come over to my kitchen immediately. With fresh tomatoes, if possible.) Maybe you’re the next Van Gogh while you’re trying to be the next Van Johnson (look him up, people. Look him up.)
I can be halfway good at a lot of things. I sort of play guitar. I pretend that I’m a decent sketch artist. I have great fashion sense, but it’s not like I’m the next Vera Wang. I’m terrible at gardening. I’m lucky if I keep a bouquet alive for a week. And I could just stick around in this halfway point forever.
It would be easy to duck my fears of not being enough at the things I love – music. writing. baking. painting – by living in the things that I only like.
And that is exactly what makes bad art.
Go be excellent at your art. Go be excellent at being you. Because – and I’m saying this maybe not even knowing you – you are awesome. You are amazing at being you. You are your own brand of artist. Find it. Love it. Develop it. It’s going to be brutally hard.
The rest of us crazy creative types are running alongside.
I want to dig in deeper this week… More coming this weekend!
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